EA’s Hilleman Suggests Battlefield 4 Launch Woes Overblown
According to Electronic Arts Chief Creative Officer Rich Hilleman, a lot of complaints about the launch of Battlefield 4 can be chalked up to “noise.”
Speaking with Rock Paper Shotgun last week at DICE in Las Vegas, Hilleman briefly discussed Battlefield 4, but when asked about the “terrible launches” of Battlefield 4 and SimCity, suggested he didn’t reckon launch success the same way players might.
“I’m not sure I accept your premise,” Hilleman said of the idea the game had “terrible launches.” “Battlefield 4 has been an exceedingly successful product on both consoles and PC. From a sales perspective, from a gameplay perspective.”
Hilleman went on to say that, with so many players purchasing Battlefield 4, the expression of the game’s launch problems might have been larger than the actual sizes of the problems.
“I think there was a lot of noise about the game, but some of that is a function of your surface area,” he said. “The more customers you have, the more noise becomes available. We did things wrong. We know that. We’re gonna fix those things. We’re gonna try to be smart about what customers want in the future.
“But I’m not willing to accept — and I don’t think most of my customers are willing to say — ‘it’s a bad product, I wish I didn’t buy it.’ That’s not the conversation we’re having now. I think what we’re hearing is, ‘You made a game we really liked. We would’ve liked it a little better if it didn’t have these problems.’ Many of those problems we can fix, and we have and will.”
That’s an interesting perspective, considering that at least some of Battlefield 4′s problems persist to this day, and Battlefield 4 launched in October. Developer DICE has put work on DLC for the game on hold until the game is fixed.
It’s true that Battlefield 4 is fundamentally a strong game, as noted in the interview — our Devin Connors felt the same way when he reviewed the title (at an EA review event). But Hilleman’s willingness to chalk up major issues, or at least player complaints about them, to “noise” because of increased “surface area” isn’t going to improved game launches.
Of course, one must expect a degree of corporate spin in situations like this, and all of EA’s discussions of troubled games like Battlefield 4 and SimCity are tinged with positive perspectives and upsides. Today at the Stifel Technology, Internet & Media Conference in San Francisco, EA Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen suggested it was Battlefield 4′s complexity — a 64-player game at 60 frames per second — coupled with relative inexperience with developing for new consoles that might have contributed to the game’s issues.
But equating copies sold with whether a game’s launch was successful makes it easy to exclude customer satisfaction, and it seems like Hilleman’s attitude makes it more likely that we’ll see more rough game launches from EA, not fewer.